Move Your Paws!

Last week I was driving to the studio to teach a morning class.  As I was waiting at a stoplight, an older woman was crossing the street with three large dogs.  Big dogs!  I have a black lab and all three were bigger than my dog so just their presence was notable.  As this unlikely quartet was about halfway across the street, the last of the three dogs stopped in his tracks.  The woman pulled hard on the leash.  I could see the leash tight and taut.  But the dog was not budging.  Then she walked back a few steps, grabbed his collar and pulled.  Not one of his paws moved an inch.  I realized the light was about to change, traffic would be coming in her direction.  I wondered what she would do.  Apparently she took the path of least resistance.  Without further ado, she turned around and went back the way she had come.  No pleading, no coaxing, no cajoling…..just went back to the curb.

That little encounter has had me both laughing and thinking for days now.  I wonder if sometimes I am like that dog, digging in my heels and refusing to cross to the other side.  The “other side” might be a new challenge, a change of direction on a path, a different way of doing something.  It could be something really great is on the other side but some days I’m just not interested; I don’t want to change.  Period.  And no amount of tugging, pulling or pushing is going to get me there any quicker.

Other times I wonder more about the other side.  What was it that kept that dog’s paws planted so firmly.  Was he afraid of something?  Or was there something at home that he wanted to get back to even more than a good walk?  Or was it the idea of a new path that had him refusing any forward movement?

Then, sometimes I think about that woman.  Gray hair, a bit hunched over, seemingly far too small in stature to be handling three big dogs.  But there she was.  Did she admit defeat in turning around and going back?  Did she show compassion for the dog who had other ideas or needs?  Or was there wisdom in taking the path of least resistance?  Maybe she knew another way to get to their destination that didn’t entail crossing four lanes of traffic.

Do you ever notice that you’ve dug in your heels and don’t want to move forward?  Those moments can tend to be black and white, this way or that way.  But maybe there is more to it.  Maybe we need to give ourselves permission to move forward in spite of fear, confusion and uncertainty.  Or maybe we need to give ourselves permission to go back to the curb and wait until the moment is right.  No one knows for sure except you but maybe those moments are good opportunities to take time to reflect about what is going on …..but don’t get hit by a car while you do it!

Ten Things I Learned from Failing (in no particular order)….make that Eleven!

On Sunday, May 17, 2015 we closed our Lincoln Park location.  Taking on a second studio location 40 miles from our first location was a huge endeavor.  It required lots of love, heart, and guts.  For many reasons that are not important here, it didn’t work.  But here is a list of some of my first learnings from ,

  1. You never know until you try.  I learned a long time ago if you are going to be an entrepreneur, you are going to try new things.  Some will work, some won’t.  If you never fail, aren’t trying enough new things.  So, I tried a new thing and it didn’t work and the world did not stop spinning!
  2. Don’t let fear stop you. There were moments in the last 18 months when fear stopped me dead in my tracks.  Because this one big thing wasn’t working, I was afraid to try anything for fear it wouldn’t work.  It was paralyzing….when I let it be.  But this kind of fear was all in my head so finally I had to evict it, lock the door and not let it back in.
  3. The light cannot be overcome. It’s a scripture passage you might have heard before: The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.  Well, there’s nothing like a looming failure to leave you feeling like you are in the dark.  Deep dark, pitch black no way out kind of dark.  But then I remembered that passage.  Now, I have to admit I’m a little mad at God over this whole failure thing….after all, the whole plan to expand was God’s plan.  But, I can still hold onto that light.  We name it at the end of every class.  The light in me, the light in you….maybe even the light of Christ…or the light of Christ in you.  Whichever light it is….it cannot be overcome so I just had to hold onto the light – some days just a spark – and trust that it truly could not be overcome when the darkness and despair crept in.
  4. I’m more resilient than I realize. I actually had a moment when I told myself that the Lincoln Park studio could not fail because I don’t fail.  I might fake it till I make it a few times but failure, just not in my wheelhouse!  Talk about audacious! Of course, then I thought for just a few more moments and the list of failures in my life came scrolling before me like credits at the end of a movie: my first short attempt at college, getting divorced, the first version of my master’s dissertation …… Each of those life events was huge at the time and now….not so bad.  I bounced back.  I found support.  I healed.  This loss is a biggie (not as big as some others) but I’ll be okay, I’m resilient.
  5. It’s good to have a Big Hairy Audacious Goal! This connects with #1 but in some ways it is different.  Yes, you have to try but I’ve always needed that next thing in life to be reaching for, to be leaning into, to be working on and working toward.   Yes, those goals have shifted over time but they have always been there.  I’m not sure what the next BHAG will be ….and it might be a bit smaller than this last one but you can be sure there will be one….it’s how I’m wired.
  6. Sometimes the answers are right there in front of you – you just have to look. For months my husband and I went back and forth about the future of the Lincoln Park studio. He’d say we should stop and I would press for more time.  Then I’d say it was time to stop and he’d say, just one more month.  Finally, I ran the reports, wrote it all down, put into black and white and there it was: RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.  I think I avoided doing that for a long time because I didn’t want to see the answer but finally I was ready and the answer was right there.  No more time, no more conversation, no more decisions to make.  The decision had already been made there on that paper, I just had to accept it.
  7. Clarity is freeing. Even though the decision to close was difficult and it led to a long to-do list of things to wrap up, move and communicate.  Each time I took a step closer to the closing, I felt better, lighter, more like myself again.  I had been living under a cloud of uncertainty for months and it was suffocating me.  Certainty brought the air back into my lungs!  I began to see through the cloud toward some of those new goals we talked about in #5.  While I was closing down the Lincoln Park studio, I began to dream about new things for the Naperville studio…..little by little plans are emerging and I am finding my way.
  8. No one said it would be easy….but it doesn’t have to kill you, either! Sure, no one said life would be easy or fair.  But when the challenges of life start to drag you down like a rip tide in Lake Michigan, pay attention.  Reach out, get help, grab onto someone!  I don’t know how I would have made it through these last months without my incredible husband and the support of friends and family.  So many stood by shaking their heads in wonder and doubting we could do it but a small group just kept saying, we’re with you.  And often that would get me through until the next wave would hit. It was hard….but you made it easier!  You know who you are!
  9. Just because the studio failed, doesn’t mean I am a failure. There can be a lot of shame that comes along with such public failure which is, I suppose, the reason I avoided it for so long.  But I know in my heart that I did everything I could do to make it work.  I sought counsel of other studio owners, I asked for help, I tried new things. Maybe someone else might have done it differently but I did my best.  There were many external factors that impacted us that we had no control over.  I had to let that all go (still working on it some days) and know that I’m still ok….more than ok, I am GREAT!  As we began to share the news of the closing with friends, the first thing some people said to me was, you are not a failure, it’s not your fault.  It brings tears to my eyes just to write it, that you rushed in to shore me up so quickly.  Thank you for that!
  10. Yoga saved me! Yes, it’s that simple.  The worse things got, the more time I spent on my mat.  The closer we got to closing, the more I needed to practice, to be still, to quiet my mind and my heart.  Many days that one hour on mat seemed like the only sane time in my life.  One day I was asked to sub a class rather than take the class and I almost lost it.  I realized that my mat was my lifeline and I needed to be there as much as possible.  We always talk in class about how our practice on the mat is practice for life, how we face the challenges on our mat help us face the challenges of life.  Well, it’s true and I know that my practice helped me face all of this with grace, equanimity and strength!
  11. It’s only a failure if you don’t learn from it. See #1 through #10 for a start.  There is more to learn from this – especially from the business perspective – but sorting out the grief and the gratitude makes that so much easier.

Thanks for joining me on my journey.

Still learning,


You Had Me at OM

Last Saturday afternoon we welcomed Rolf Gates to our Naperville studio. Over 50 people filed into our studio, set up their mats and waited. I was among them….finally….after months, weeks, days of preparation the time had arrived.

I sat on my mat, tried to calm my mind from the many details I had tended to….were they all done? Too late now, I told myself, we are here, this is the time, that is all that matters.

And then it came…..the whole room inhaled together and the first OM of the day welled up around me like a wave of love, joy and anticipation. Tears sprang to my eyes as I knew that in that moment, in that OM, I was surrounded by my community, my people were here, filling our studio with the pure sound of open hearts.
What is OM after all that it should have such a profound impact on me? OM is said to be the very first sound of the universe and when we chant OM it helps us remember that we are part of something greater, connected to the universe and all those others around the world who chant OM. OM is about the universal community. But, sometimes that connection doesn’t feel quite near enough for me, and I’m left wondering if my own OM is just lost in space.
But this OM, this first OM and all the OM’s that followed that day were magical. They were visceral. They were close. They were supportive. They were community. Ah, back to that word…community. The word for community in Sanskrit is Kula and it means an intentional community. Kula is a community that comes together of its own free will. It is a community of the heart. I would hesitate to say family because with family you have to be born into it, adopted into it, or marry into it. With Kula you are freely welcomed as you simply set an intention to be part of the community.

Recently I have been feeling the loss of community in my life. I left my position at the churchwide headquarters where I worked and miss the co-workers and pastors around the country with whom I shared an intention for growing the church. And, in the yoga world, I have noticed a trend toward more studio hopping rather than setting down roots to be part of something bigger. No sooner do I get to know a new student than they are gone to a different introductory offer.

Of course, In many ways yoga is a very individual endeavor, but the purpose of that individual endeavor is for a greater good. We use yoga to change ourselves and improve our lives for the sake of the world, for the sake of the people around us, to bring something better to the earth. Sure, we can go it alone but community helps keep us on track, true to our intention and still part of the larger intention.

So, that first OM and all the OM’s that followed that day, helped me remember that I haven’t lost anything and that I am still part of a great(er) community of like minded people with whom I can share the challenge and joy that is yoga. Separately we can change our lives but together we can change the world.

Next time you are on your mat, open your awareness to the people around you. Share your breath with them, share your good intentions with them, share your heart with them, and then….OM with wild abandon. Come. Come into the kula, come home.

Choose Joy!

I had a good long conversation with a friend the other day. We hadn’t spoken in a while and much had taken place since the last tine we connected, I left my full time job, I started working with my husband, Dr. Kent at Holistic Chiropractic and Healing Arts Center, as well as full time at our two yoga studios, Divine Power Yoga. Some days the transition has felt seamless and wonderful. Other days it’s been frustrating and lonely. I’m learning the ropes of a new job and in many ways Kent and I are figuring it out as we go along. I start each day with a to-do list but then Kent has other ideas and I get pulled in lots of different directions. I wonder where my autonomy went. I wonder where my sanity went. As we talked, I shared all of this with my friend who tried to be encouraging without discounting my feelings, which I really appreciated.

Later that day, I dropped him a quick note thanking him for the conversation and I realized that I might have made it all sound harder/worse than it really is. I told him that I forgot to mention all the good things happening and the many things I take for granted each day. I GET to do the work I choose and not what someone else tells me to do (except for Kent 🙂 ). We are healthy and happy. We have wonderful, supportive family and enjoy our children and grandchild (soon to be grandchildren!). We GET to do yoga and share it with others. We GET to bring healing to others. We GET to coach people back to wholeness. We have a roof over our heads, healthy food in the frig and a dog who loves us. We have friends to play with and have the opportunity to explore new possibilities each and every day.

You see, it’s all about perspective. It’s all about choosing. I could choose negativity and sadness but instead I chose gratitude and appreciation. In the movie The Cure Is…. (downloadable online), it seems that everything in our lives comes down to attitude. When we get sick, do we choose fear or courage? When we meet a barrier, do we choose discouragement or determination? When we have free time, do we choose more work or play? It seems that our choices impact our well-being and our very health. Of course, it’s natural to feel sad, tired, discouraged from time to time….but the big question is, do you stay there? Or do you choose something different?

In the midst of SOOOO many gifts, I had started to choose negativity that day on the phone…..but in the end, I chose positivity, potential and gratitude. This holiday season, Dr. Kent and I are grateful for each of you and the part you play at Divine Power Yoga. We are grateful that you continue to trust us with your health and that you continue to choose us to walk along side you.

In the midst of shopping, cooking, cleaning, wrapping and all that comes along with the holidays, I encourage you….do what you need to to choose happiness….choose JOY….for you, for your life, for the many blessings you have and for your health.

May the peace of the season fill your heart,


Take a Deep Breath!

Do you ever think much about your breath? Most of us don’t, it’s something that happens automatically. Our nervous system and brain work together to make sure we are inhaling oxygen into our body and exhaling toxins out of our body all the time. It just happens….or does it?

The yogic principle of pranayama is about life force energy. It’s the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat….and at the same time it’s none of that. Maybe it’s more appropriate to say life force energy is what we GET from the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. It’s the driving force of our lives. We get more life force energy from air, water and food as well as people, special places and times in our lives. At the same time, we also expend life force energy…we expend that vital energy through work, play, relationships. The key is to have a good balance….more prana, more life force energy coming in than going out.
Sometimes the stress of any given day can disrupt that delicate balance of life force energy. All it takes is a few rude people, bad traffic, running late or someone who seems to just suck up all your energy with their negativity…you know, energy vampires. We’ve all met people like that, we’ve all had days like that. So what do we do when we feel so depleted? Breathe!

Try this simple breathing exercise: lay on the floor with your knees bent, soles of your feet on the floor. Place your hands on your belly and feel your belly rise and fall as you breathe. If your belly isn’t moving, you are probably breathing in your chest and shoulders. For good, prana increasing breath, you want big long belly breaths. Start to count the length of your inhales (maybe to 4), pause, then exhale the same duration. Do this several times increasing the number as you go, lengthening your breath. If you do this simple exercise daily, you are ensured plenty of prana as well as relaxation to go along with it!

Can’t get onto the floor right this moment?? Take several deep breaths, in trough the nose and out through the nose, wherever your are and feel yourself immediately begin to calm down. Take all that great breathing onto your mat and find new ease in your practice.

You ARE what you eat!

Detox and LIVE!

Many people think that a detox can be drudgery…so difficult and restricting that life is just no fun anymore. Well, depending on how you do it, nothing could be further from the truth.

These past ten days, folks at Divine Power Yoga and Holistic Chiropractic and Healing Arts Center have been participating in a Ten Day Sugar Detox as part of our Health is Divine program. For October, the month of the year noted for sugar intoxication (Halloween) we gave us sugar for a minimum of ten days.
Here’s what it looked like in a nutshell. For ten days we avoided:
• Anything that is not real food (e.g. anything made in a factory that comes in a can, box or package) unless it is a canned whole food such as sardines or artichokes with only a few real ingredients such as water or salt
• Any food or drink that contains added sugar (including honey, molasses, agave, maple syrup, organic cane juice or artificial sweeteners), especially any sugar-sweetened beverages or fruit juices
• Anything that contains hydrogenated oils and refined vegetable oils (like corn or soybean oil)
• Any foods with artificial sweeteners, preservatives, additives, coloring, or dyes – basically anything that has a label or is processed in any way
• Anything sugar or flour based (cookies, cakes, candies, etc.)
• Grains (rice, oats, quinoa) and all foods made from flours (crackers, pasta, bread, pretzels, etc.)
• Starches (sweet potato, potato, squash, parsnip, beets, etc.)
• Dairy with added sugar (yogurt, sour cream, cheese, milk, etc.)
• Alcohol (wine, beer, spirits, etc.)
After seven days we gathered for a cooking class and got some feedback from the group. The first few days were rough for most people….food cravings, headaches, fatigue, crankiness were the main complaints. But after 2-3 days, energy came back better than before, food tasted better and cravings disappeared. Some even admitted to weight loss although that was not the primary goal.
This detox had no special foods to buy, no shakes or supplements. It was just real food, whole food, food that is good for you. This is the way our ancestors ate, the way our grandparents ate, before the advent of convenience food, industrial canning and packaging. Going back to basics is a simple way to detox that is delicious, easy and well worth it.
I’m feeling better than ever so I’m going to keep going….ten days and counting….not just a detox but a lifestyle! Are you interested in taking the Ten Day Sugar Detox yourself? Give us a call and we’ll help you get started! 630-708-6770.

Join us for a sugar free cooking class Monday, October 27th at 7:15pm….from Breakfast to Dinner….all healthy, all delicious, all sugar free!

Because it’s good for you!

This morning I had the opportunity to speak to the advanced health class at Waubonsie Valley High School. My assignment was to address the health benefits of yoga and then provide a brief practice so that they students could begin to experience it for themselves. It might sound strange to think that one brief class could make a difference but it can! Of course, regular practice makes even more of a difference but these students….and YOU, could begin to feel the benefits of yoga from the very first class.

So, I came up with a list of twenty health benefits of yoga. It was easy, I didn’t even have to try hard. Then I had the students make their own list and we compared. They thought of a few that I had missed…..and I had many they needed some hints for but together we increased the list to TWENTY-TWO!! So, here they are, twenty-two reasons to do yoga… you have any to add?

Twenty-two (yes, twenty-two) Health Benefits from Yoga
1. Increased Flexibility
2. Increased Strength (upper body and core especially!)
3. Better Posture
4. Deeper Breathing (less asthma and other lung related issues)
5. Stress Relief
6. Lowers Blood Pressure (lower risk of heart disease)
7. Slows Heart Rate (lower risk of heart disease)
8. Lowers Cholesterol (lower risk of heart disease)
9. Boosts Immune System
10. Eases Migraines
11. Decreases Insomnia, Better Sleep
12. Decrease Risk of Obesity, Lowers Food Cravings
13. Increased Concentration, Longer Attention Span
14. Lowers Risk of Depression, Increases GABA in Brain
15. Lowers Risk of Diabetes, Lowers Blood Sugar
16. Decreases Back Pain
17. Increases Nerve Impulses, Think Faster, React More Quickly
18. Increase Bone Health, Weight Bearing Exercise
19. Increased Coping Skills
20. Better Urinary Health (boosts sexual health too!) (can you say mula bandha?)
21. Better Balance
22. Increased Energy

Say YES to Yourself!

Say YES to yourself!!

October heralds great fall colors, a shift in the weather and lots of ghouls and goblins….but at Divine Power Yoga we are focusing on something than can be scarier than Halloween….our health. In any given yoga class we focus on breath and poses and even clearing the mind, but how often do we consider how what goes into our bodies impacts not only our practice but our daily lives, our happiness and our longevity.

To give our community the best tools for the best health, we have developed Health is Divine. Health is Divine is an ongoing program that will address health issues from all different directions. For October we are going Sugar Free First! So join us, and take the first step toward living your best life, the first step toward better health, the first step toward feeling better EVERY SINGLE DAY!

Monday, October 6th screening of the movie Fed Up

Monday, October 13th Ten Day Detox Meeting

Monday, October 20th Quick and Healthy Cooking Demo: Blender Style

Monday, October 27th: Quick and Healthy Cooking Demo: Breakfast to Dinner

Each session begins at 7:15pm, October 6th is 2 hours, all others 1 hour.

Attend all four sessions for only $40! Bring a friend and save $5! Drop in to one, $15.

Let’s face it, this small investment is less than the cost of a doctor visit or even some prescription co-pays and has the potential to save you thousands of dollars moving forward. You are worth it!! Take the time to invest in a new YOU! Visit, click classes, then click sign up and finally the workshops tab.

Calm in the midst of the storm….

Big changes are a foot at our house! I recently quit my day job….that safety net that I thought had been holding me but maybe had also been holding me back. I stopped living with one foot in each world and have now stepped firmly into the yoga world with both feet. It’s exciting, it’s scary, maybe it’s even a bit crazy!

I have to say that the days, weeks and even months leading up to this decision were often fraught with anxiety and indecision. I felt pulled in one direction and, then, if everything didn’t fall into place perfectly I would step back, pull back in the other direction. But, life rarely gives us perfect, right? Instead of perfect – our idea of perfect – life give us exactly what we need.

Not surprisingly, I often found myself sorting out the difference between my version of perfect and the reality unfolding around me in the middle of the night. Why does our consciousness want to sort things out at 3am? I am happy to work on it at 10am! But, no, that’s just not how it happens. So, rather than wrestle with angels and demons in the middle of the night I did yoga. I did yoga to calm my mind, settle my heart and allow me to let go of the outcomes and live into the reality as it unfolded.

Maybe that sounds crazy, doing yoga in the middle of the night! But that’s exaxtly what I did….right in my own bed. Two poses were my favorites for settling my sand and eventually getting back to sleep. First, I would turn around and put my feet up the wall – viparita karani. With my feet above my head, my whole body gently supported by the wall and my mattress, I would take deep breaths, shifting from anxiety to calm. Then, I would shift around, put my head on my pillow and do tree pose, laying down – vrksana – tree pose in bed. The sole of my foot on my inner thigh, pressed into my spleen channel, creating opportunity for me to shift positive thought into reality. With my hands at my heart in angeli mudra, I followed my breath in and out of my body until sleep would once again claim me.

Now that the decision is made, it’s amazing how much better I am sleeping! Are you on the edge of trying something new? Are you resisting the call of the universe to become more than you ever dreamed possible? Are you scared to death? Trust that the universe will support you fully in all that you are called to do….and when that trust fails…try a little yoga in the middle of the night!

Joy, Courage and Abundance!

Often at the beginning of a yoga practice we are invited to set an intention.  To be honest, sometimes it stymies me.  For this next 60 minutes….I intend…..what, just to be present!  not to fall on my butt!  not to look like a fool!  Sure, any of those things work for me.  But often through the tone of the request I imagine the teacher is inviting me into something more profound but what I am able to accomplish in 60 minutes doesn’t feel all that profound.  Eventually, I realized that I needed a bigger intention.  I needed something that would extend far past the 60 minutes on my mat and into my life.  I needed something that would undergird everything I do, be the reason for everything I do…..and be a mantra to help me remember when life’s distractions and chaos get too close.  After trying on several different intentions, I settled on Joy, Courage and Abundance!

Joy…..because it’s a choice!  With everything that life dishes out, it can be easy to slip into negativity and even a little darkness from time to time.  And, without a compass to bring me back to center, a little slip can become a habit.  Joy is part of my intention because it’s a choice I make every day, over and over again.  Some days I do better than others, some days I am more joyful and sometimes exhaustion and darkness creep in but every time I state my intention I remind myself to choose JOY!

Courage….because in order to risk, to think outside the box, to be willing to try new things, I need courage.  Sometimes I need courage just to stand in front of a yoga class and teach; to get beyond worrying about who will like me or what will happen if no one laughs at my jokes.  Courage helped me get to and go through teacher training.  Courage is what made me believe I could teach people to be teachers, write a book, inspire others.  Courage is everything behind opening our first studio in Naperville and then stepping out in faith to head into Lincoln Park as well.  I can’t imagine where I would be without a daily dose (sometimes hourly dose) of courage!

Abundance…..because scarcity thinking is just plain crazy!  The world is a place of abundance and I need to remind myself of that on a regular basis.  I have everything I need!  And everything I could ever need is already available to me.  Love is abundant, grace is abundant, forgiveness is abundant, resources are abundant, energy is abundant.  If I try to do it all myself, those statements become far less true and I begin to believe that there just might not be enough, but when I rely on others, on God, on the Universe to show me the abundance in my life….I am overwhelmed by all the gifts that surround me.

Joy, courage and abundance!  I say it daily, it’s in my head when I meditate, some form or another are always part of my computer log-in because I want to type it daily….many times a day…just to be reminded over and over again.  What is your life’s intention